Elliott Horowitz, z"l

Elliott Horowitz (1953–2017)

The editors and staff of the Jewish Quarterly Review express our profound sadness at the untimely death of our friend and colleague, Professor Elliott Horowitz. For nearly fifteen years, Elliott lent his unique intellect, editorial skills, and humor to JQR, which he helped shape into one of the leading scholarly forums in the field of Jewish studies. A dedicated Anglophile, Elliott took seriously the English roots of JQR (founded in London in 1889), and delighted in recovering treasures from the journal in its early years. His own essays in our pages, famous for their humor and bibliographic bounty, borrowed from the impressionistic and associative style of Israel Abraham, one of the journal’s founding English editors. Working with Elliott on the journal—or, in fact, editing his own articles—was never a race to the finish, but rather a leisurely country outing, replete with ample stops to reflect on the beauty of the surroundings.

Apart from his work for JQR, Elliott was a uniquely creative cultural historian. He relished and perfected the article form, producing some of the most innovative pieces in early modern Jewish history in the last half-century, including his path-breaking “Coffee, Coffee Houses, and the Nocturnal Rituals of Early Modern Jewry” (1989). Few scholars of the Jewish past can think of coffee, the Safedian practice of midnight study (tikune hatsot), Italian confraternities, or Purim without immediately summoning up the work of Elliott Horowitz. His monograph Reckless Rites: Purim and the Legacy of Jewish Violence (2006), which was a runner-up for the National Jewish Book Award, brought together his enduring and fearless scholarly curiosity with his ethical concern for the way in which religion has been used and abused. This book, like so much of his work, bore traces of his deep humanity, which we all will sorely miss. He was a polymath, an iconoclast, and indeed a decent and caring person whose wit had few peers.

We at the journal, and indeed the field, will miss a friend and colleague whose time came far too soon.

posted March 21, 2017